What the War on Drugs looks like in Rangoon.
Read more. [Image: Associated Press]
With all the dispiriting news about democracy these days, it is easy to lose sight of the promising transitions underway in Tunisia and Myanmar (Burma). After the recent constitutional bargain between the moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, and its secular opposition, Tunisia now seems headed toward viable democracy. Burma, however, remains a long ways from that achievement.
Whether Burma will become a democracy after parliamentary elections late next year rests not only on the integrity of that vote. It also depends on what parliament does—or fails to do—to amend blatantly undemocratic provisions in the country’s current constitution. These give the military a quarter of the seats in parliament (and thus a veto over constitutional reform), control of the powerful National Defense and Security Council, and complete immunity from civilian oversight. They also continue to deny Burma’s minorities (about a third of the population) meaningful devolution of power and resources, and they effectively ban opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from contesting the presidency.
Burma’s parliament is now beginning to sort through numerous proposals for constitutional change, while President Thein Sein’s government sporadically engages the country’s minorities on reforms to end more than six decades of ethnic violence. But no major Burmese political leader—not even Suu Kyi herself—has confronted the most explosive threat to the transition: religious intolerance.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Patrik Wallner, known for his skate videos shot in exotic locations, took a week off to visit Burma. Instead of putting his camera down, however, he captured the beautiful scenes below from the weightless perspective of a hot air balloon. Seeing “all the temples illuminated by the morning light was really a magical experience which I can’t stress enough for you to try for yourself if you happen to go to that side of the world!” he says.